Shooting woes continue to plague IU

Archie Miller has said it all season.

Indiana’s first-year coach believes he has a better shooting team than the numbers show. The problem is, he — and everyone who follows these Hoosiers — is still waiting for that shot-making ability to translate to games.

IU turned in another poor shooting performance in a game it could ill afford one on Friday at Michigan State, going 34 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range.

Ten weeks into the season, the Hoosiers are still waiting for their shooting to stabilize.

“Looking at our practice stats, looking at our shooting drills in practice and the percentages, we have guys that shoot a much different percentage in practice and in our workouts than we do in the game,” Miller said. “That’s probably just the one outlier that, from a percentage standpoint, why we would say we’re a better shooting team than we have.”

Long-distance shooting remains particularly worrisome for a team that entered the year with at least a few players — Robert Johnson and Collin Hartman immediately come to mind — demonstrating an ability to knock down shots.

Josh Newkirk and Devonte Green, too, enjoyed stretches during the 2016-17 season when they showed ability from long range.

But with IU shooting only 30.7 percent from 3-point range as a team, consistency has eluded the Hoosiers.

“I think Al (Durham) really hasn’t got it clicked in conference play a whole lot yet,” Miller said. “He’s a better shooter than that. Rob finally broke out maybe a little bit against Northwestern behind the line. I think Rob is a much better shooter than he shot leading into the Big Ten. Josh is probably as consistent as anybody from a percentage standpoint in the games, but I think he’s another guy that can make multiple shots. Collin has shown the ability to stretch the floor, but he’s been a little bit erratic here lately.”

Friday was the first time since Jan. 2 that Hartman played without a brace on his right shoulder, which he injured leading into the Jan. 6 game at Minnesota.

Since going 4-for-8 from the perimeter at Wisconsin, Hartman has shot only 2-for-13 from 3-point range during his past three games.

Hartman missed each of his four shots from beyond the arc at Michigan State. Miller said he’s not sure how much injuries have affected Hartman’s stroke, though he anticipates the fifth-year senior returning to form before long.

A career 40-percent 3-point shooter entering the year, Hartman is making only 30 percent of his long-distance shots this season.

“I think he’s a guy that can come back around from that,” Miller said. “Right now, he’s not shooting the ball particularly well. But he’s been in practice every day. He’s working hard. … He’s a veteran guy and there’s a lot of games left and I suspect he’ll be back and he’ll make some and make some big ones for us.”

Johnson has been one of the recent bright spots for IU, particularly as a shooter.

The senior has shown signs of an awakening, connecting at 53 percent from beyond the arc in the past two games.

Miller, however, still wants to see more from others.

Eventually, Miller believes, he will.

“I think we have better individual shooters,” Miller said. “When I watch them in drills and I watch them in practice and then in the game, we haven’t put like one of those games together where everybody was hitting. So there’s still hope that I think maybe we can get a little bit hot here as conference play goes and improve our percentage from behind the three-point line.”

3 comments

  1. These players could make significant improvement in their shooting ability and they’d still be bad shooters. That’s how far they are from being good shooters. I appreciate Miller’s optimism (what else can he say?), but I doubt we’ll see this group of players find their stroke for the remainder of this season. I’m just hoping they can cobble together a winning season through good defense and solid team basketball.

  2. Perimeter shooting can be a very strange roller coaster for some….Thinking of former Hoosiers, Eric Gordon and VO will have stretches of horrific perimeter shooting(2-10…1-9 types of nights) and then they’ll get hot or relatively consistent again.
    A somewhat dominant inside game can also remove a lot of pressure from “must makes” at the end of shot clocks.
    Justin Smith, Hartman, and RJ all exhibit a nice stroke of the ball….I wouldn’t put them into a hopeless category. RJ’s numbers are already bumping up. Hartman has taken too many shots on the move. He’s not a quick move and release shooter. He functioned better with a dominant middle that would often hedge/collapse a defense.
    Outside shooting is also a product of receiving the ball at the optimal time….A tendency to throw one too many passes and the ball ends up at a shooter where the defense has already recovered = Shots more contested. And taking less shots or fearing the open shot early in the possession in hopes there’s an even better shot awaiting won’t fix the problem.
    With DeRon out…and Morgan questionable, the solution isn’t more conservative/reluctant approaches. Play a better brand of defense …limit turnovers….crash the offensive glass. Keep shooting the ball! Don’t pass up open shots!

  3. I agree with Miller. He observes all the practices with a coach’s critical eye. I accept his evaluation. Also as stated RJ is picking up the pace in long range shooting. This team spent 75% of the preseason practices on M/M D. Hartman has always been a good shooter. That tells me the emphasis on D early cost the team some edge off their collective shooting stroke.

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